Ballet academy

The Montreal Ballet Academy offers free training to qualified Ukrainian refugees

Director Sandra Castro-Muhlbauer says it’s unfair that young people lose their dream of becoming dancers.

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A ballet academy in Montreal has joined a growing list of groups offering support to displaced Ukrainians.

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The Mount Royal Ballet Academy offers free training to young people with ballet experience arriving in Montreal, the director of the academy announced on Wednesday.

“In Ukraine, ballet is taken very, very seriously, just like here when you’re in a professional program,” said Sandra Castro-Muhlbauer. “These kids who are in this kind of program, their goal is really to become dancers and I think that goal shouldn’t be stopped now because of the situation that’s going on.”

The academy’s offer comes as Montreal rallies to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. Montrealers have donated food, clothing and medical supplies to Ukrainian churches in the city, while others have volunteered their time or donated rooms in their homes to families arriving in the coming weeks. An NDG restaurant plans to donate its net profits on Tuesdays to Ukrainian relief efforts until the crisis is over.

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Castro-Muhlbauer, who competed in an international ballet competition in Kyiv as a teenager, said ballet studies are an expense displaced families are unlikely to be able to afford. The cost varies between $500 and $1,000 per month.

“If they immigrate here to Canada, there is no tuition-free ballet program,” she said. “I think it would be terribly sad for a kid who has worked so hard for the past few years…to quit because of this situation.”

Free lessons mean experienced ballet dancers can continue their training five days a week, which translates to between 10 and 20 hours a week depending on level, Castro-Muhlbauer said. The plan is to provide free tuition for at least a year or two while families settle in.

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“And even then, after that, there’s a possibility of getting a scholarship if somebody’s really, really good,” Castro-Muhlbauer said. “We could give a full scholarship or a half scholarship to help them financially. But I think for now, it’s important to know that we are a place that offers tuition-free courses.

Those interested can contact the academy at 514-737-7676 or [email protected] to schedule an audition.

[email protected]

  1. Ukrainian flags hang from the windows of a building opposite the Russian consulate in Montreal on March 14, 2022.

    A city councilor waves the Ukrainian flag in front of the Russian consulate in Montreal

  2. Volunteers sort through a steady stream of donations bound for Ukraine as Montrealers drop off items at Duffy's in Dorval on Sunday.

    West island towns show support for Ukraine

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